Classroom Music, Recorder Instruction and Chorus

Brandon Valerino

Brandon is a multi-instrumentalist and passionate music educator. Originally from Syracuse, NY, Brandon received a BA in Saxophone Performance at the New England Conservatory located in the heart of Boston. He recently ventured to Los Angeles, CA to pursue the progressive Master of Arts in Teaching program through the Longy School of Music of Bard College and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Currently, Brandon teaches K-3 classroom music and chorus at five elementary schools throughout the Newhall School District.

Cate Muro

Cate’s musical journey began at Newhall Elementary school in the advanced orchestra as a bell player and flutist. Cate attended USC where she enjoyed playing flute and singing in the vocal jazz ensemble. After earning a BM in Music Education and a BS in General Studies (elementary education) at 'SC, Cate worked as a 1st grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade classroom teacher in the Burbank Unified and Saugus Union School Districts, always carving out time to teach before and after school chorus. With a passion for arts education, Cate joined the original cohort of Kennedy Center Partners in Education teachers. She became a coach and a trainer for the Kennedy Center Partners in Education and spent 4 years as a Music and Arts Integration Teacher on Special Assignment. Cate is passionate about quality and equity in music and arts education and works hard to deliver engaging, creative, and rigorous lessons as a classroom music and chorus teacher at 5 of our Newhall School District sites.



Tara Speiser

Originally from Carmel Valley, CA, Tara joined the Newhall School District in 1995. She holds a BA from UC Santa Cruz, an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a professional Clear teaching credential. Since moving to Southern California in 1992, Tara has demonstrated a commitment to the development of young musicians serving as a wind specialist with the Santa Clarita Youth Orchestra, a teaching artist with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, an adjunct bassoon faculty member at CALARTS, and as program coordinator and chamber music teacher for the Santa Clarita Valley Community Arts Partnership (SCVAP) music workshops at CALARTS. Tara maintains a local private basson studio and plays bassoon with local professional orchestras, early music ensembles and avant-garde experimental groups. Tara is a member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and the California Music Educators Association (CMEA).

Melissa Fuentes

Ms. Fuentes grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, which is where she got her start in teaching while working with local schools and performance groups. During her early years of high school, she discovered that she wanted to pursue a career in music education. She graduated with honors from California State University, Fullerton with a BA in Music Education and holds a California teaching credential in Music. Ms. Fuentes is a percussion specialist and multi-instrumentalist. She is a percussion coach for the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra (PYSO) and is on staff at Bellis Music Camp. In addition, she teaches private lessons in both orchestral percussion and drum set. Ms. Fuentes is passionate about sharing music with students and helping them become life-long learners of music.

Otto Sit

Born and raised in Southern California, Otto holds a BA in Music Education from California State University, Fullerton and a California teaching credential. He first started playing the alto saxophone at age 11 but quickly switched over to trombone and then finally to bassoon, making that his primary instrument. During his student years, he was a trombonist in CSUF’s Jazz Orchestra in 2018 which placed 1st place in the Reno Jazz Festival that year and has also attended numerous summer festivals as a bassoonist including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Institute, Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival, and Marrowstone Music Festival. Prior to Newhall School District, Otto was head visual instructor at Sonora High School and spent a few summers as an instructor for the Southern California Bocal Majority Double Reed Camp. In his free time Otto likes to indoor rock climb and catch up with friends and family through board games.